A brain abscess is a serious and often life threatening condition because it not only affects brain function but spinal cord functions as well. It is not easy for an abscess to occur in the brain this is because of the blood-brain barrier in the body. When this defense is impaired, bacteria and other harmful pathogens can enter the brain and cause severe damage.
Brain Abscess in Children
- A brain abscess is defined as an infection in the brain that is encapsulated and localized to one or more areas inside of the brain.
- Brain as well as spinal cord function may be affected.
- All children can be affected with this condition but is most commonly found in school-aged children.
- Males have a higher rate of developing an abscess compared to females.
- Children can develop a single abscess or multiple abscesses.
Brain Abscess in Infants
- Infants and neonates are another age group that can develop a brain abscess.
- In a study conducted for this age group, it was found that a bacterial origin was the cause for the abscess formation.
- Prognosis in infants with large or multiple abscesses are poor.
- For a better prognosis in infants, early detection and diagnosis is important as well as close monitoring using ultrasound or CT scans to monitor the development or reduction in abscess formation.
Brain Abscess Symptoms in Children
Symptoms vary depending on age groups:
Babies or young children may exhibit the following:
- Bulging or full fontanelle
- Increased irritability
- High-pitched or shrill cry
- Poor feeding
- Projective vomiting
Older children present with the following symptoms:
- Severe headaches
- Changes in behavior or personality
- Changes in speech
- Walking or gait problems
- Spasticity in the arms or legs
Brain Abscess Treatment
- The goal of the treatment for brain abscess is to reduce the pressure in the head caused by the abscess as well as to properly drain the abscess.
- Studies have shown that treatments used for children and infants with abscess include needle aspiration, drainage, irrigation, and even a craniotomy.
- Other symptomatic treatments include medication for seizures, fever, and infection as well as physical, occupational, and speech therapy.
- Treatment will differ depending on several factors:
- Child’s age, medical history, and general condition
- Extent or severity of the condition
- Child’s tolerance to medications, therapies, or procedure
- Expectations for the course of the condition
- Opinion or preference of the family